I know to some people it may sound corny and a little bit like bumper-sticker shorthand – but as we mark this Memorial Day – please take a moment to remember “Freedom Isn’t Free”.
As a journalist, I try every day to remember — if only for a few seconds – that I get to do what I do for living because for more than 200 years, millions of American men and women put their very lives on the line to make this nation and all it stands for possible. We can all ask any questions we want and criticize our government all we want because of all those who currently or have ever served in our armed forces.
Yes, there are other countries with a free press and many of the other rights we enjoy, take for granted even – but there’s really nowhere else on this planet that offers all the same freedoms and opportunities that just come with the great gift of being an American citizen.
A few years back – a journalist from one of the former Soviet republics knocked on the door here at WGBY. He was visiting this area – saw the logo on our building and asked if there was anyone here he could take with about American news reporting. His English was great – and I certainly didn’t know his native language – but he made it clear to me he wanted to talk about this thing he’d always heard about –Freedom of the Press.
Yes, I told him, as long as I was reporting the truth, not libeling or slandering someone – I could pretty much go about my job without fear. Don’t you worry about being beaten up by supporters of someone you question – or having rocks or bombs thrown into your office building or home, he managed to ask?
I told him that while things like that have sometimes, very rarely happened to reporters here – it’s the exception, not the rule. The very basic foundation of our democracy – the United States Constitution—guarantees a free press – and it’s just in our nature, in our DNA as Americans that that’s how it is.
But it is that way – because of all the people who’ve ever put on the uniform of our Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard or Air Force. They make it all possible. They make America happen. They make all the hopes and promises in that Constitution real and alive.
Please, take some time this Memorial Day weekend to think about them and their families and their sacrifices for all of us. Never Forget.